A picture is worth a thousand words, and in order to fully convey just how unreal the White Mountains of New Hampshire are, you probably need at least a few pictures. One of Franconia Notch, one of the Kancamagus Highway, a few of Mount Washington... and we can't forget the covered bridges, resorts, and fascinating towns along the way. Okay, so we're up to more than just a few pictures, but seriously, the White Mountains are just that awesome. Here's a trip that covers the basics of why we love this part of New Hampshire so much!
One of the highest peaks this side of the United States has to offer, Mount Washington stands 6,288 feet tall. Hang out in White Mountain National Forest while you visit this beauty, dive into the science of being at that altitude with scientists during a weather station tour at the observatory, or shimmy up the summit with a day or overnight trip. While most adventure the area in the summer, the winter promises a gorgeous aesthetic unique to the area, and who doesn't love picturesque snow-covered mountain views?! Mount Washington is an extremely popular hiking haven, and for good reason. The Tuckerman Ravine Trail (7.9 miles one way) is the easiest hike up, though the longer Boott Spur Trail and the more challenging Lion Head Trail (better for the hike up than the hike down) offer stellar views. If you choose to hike, do your research, come prepared, and plan for a full day of activity. This is not a casual hike, so beginning trailblazers... be warned. This particular hike is not something to take lightly, but it is worth it for prepared adventurers.
Stop what you're doing and look up images of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, immediately. The panoramic views you'll see on this 7.6-mile winding toll road are insane. Drive it yourself and take it all in at your own speed (with caution, of course) or kick back and relax with a wide variety of guided tours. Let someone else do the driving so you're able to really gawk at the mountains and skies that go on for miles, or hop in with a professional for a tour that includes seeing rare birds of the area. For those wanting to experience the beauty on foot, a shuttle bus is made available. Bring a jacket for the high-altitude weather, and come prepared to be amazed, whether you're driving or not, because this is considered one of the most scenic drives in America. Once you've conquered the drive, make sure to pick up a bumper sticker; it's a badge of honor for cars that have made it to the top!
Sure, hiking and driving up the mountain are great, but taking a train ride with the Mount Washington Cog Railway is a whole different ballgame. Travel up the mountain the same way folks did back in 1869, and you'll find yourself mesmerized by the world's first mountain-climbing cog railway train. Once at the top, a museum, gift shop, and the Mount Washington Observatory will be waiting. You'll feel as if you are a part of history when riding the cog railway, which a man named Sylvester Marsh dreamed up after nearly losing his life attempting to make it up the summit. Remember to book your tickets in advance! The locomotives at this magical New Hampshire treasure offer a trip of a lifetime that feels simultaneously nostalgic and exhilarating.
Do you like unique, local beer? How about wood-fired pizza? Outdoor seating with water views? Of course you do, and that's just what Schilling Beer Co. in Littleton is proud to offer travelers from near or far. Littleton is a neat little town with views of the White Mountains, friendly people, and plenty to do... but if you want to spend all of your time mingling with the locals at Schilling, we don't blame you. A brewery experience here is something that everyone passing through (over 21 of course) should check out. Folks who visit rave about the pizza and pretzels, as well as the setting. Located in an old sawmill, the brewery offers the perfect New Hampshire setting for the live music, a wide beer selection, and tasty grub.
Franconia Notch State Park is a slice of heaven on earth. Walk along the cliffside boardwalks of the waterfall-filled Flume Gorge, visit the New England Ski Museum, or take an epic ride on the aerial tramway at Cannon Mountain. This state park is one where you can enjoy Mother Nature firsthand and get away from it all. Echo Lake Beach offers water-lovers the chance to swim, boat, or fish-- if hiking isn't your cup of tea. The bike path and campground add even more adventure to your trip. Franconia has it all. Winter comes with gorgeous snow covering the land, but fall foliage in the park isn't something to be missed either. Summer months can get crowded, but hiking in good weather is great here. Whenever you choose to visit, add the park to your list of must-sees! The views alone are worth it!
It all started in 1928 when the Clark family opened up a stop for travelers to meet their sled dogs and enjoy treats from up north. A few years later, the Clarks obtained a trained black bear, which really piqued the curiosity of passersby. One of the Clark sons went on to train bears here, and began running a bear show. Today, you can find circus acts of all kinds, a climbing wall for kids, a Segway safari, and much, much more. There's even a water raft ride that will knock your socks off! Clark's Trading Post is a legendary tourist stop that has been a family favorite for decades. Several museums, including an old fire station, can be found on the property for those not only wanting thrilling adventures, but some interesting learning opportunities as well.
Before you hit the pavement on the Kancamagus Highway, first learn to pronounce its tongue-twister of a name (it's pronounced Kank-ah-mah-gus... or you can refer to it as "The Kanc.") Take the nearly 35-mile highway along Route 112 during the fall, and you'll quickly see what all the hype is about. There are SIX campgrounds along the route as well as plenty of hiking, and waterfalls galore. Sabbaday Falls and Rocky Gorge are just a few of the iconic cascades that attract the attention of everyone passing by. The towns of Lincoln and Woodstock offer great restaurants and friendly faces along your journey. While the Highway is at its prettiest in the fall, it's a great drive (and a lot less crowded) in the spring and summer as well.
Mount Washington and Tuckerman Ravine inspired the creators of Tuckerman Brewing Company to begin offering locals and tourists mountain-brewed beer that's gained a cult following. A tour of the beer-making process will inspire you and educate you on the passion behind the brews, and a cold fresh flight of the brewery’s offerings will have you wanting to stay for more. Tuckerman offers live music and events of all kinds, as well as board games and cornhole for those looking to have some fun. The entire experience is great for warming up after an adventurous day out in the cold, New Hampshire winter, and also for cooling off after a summer's day of outdoor activity. The Brewery has won awards, so whether you know your brewing facts, are a beer snob, or just want to try something new, Tuckerman Brewing Company is a place that allows you to kick back and enjoy quality beer with quality people.
Hop on board the Conway Scenic Railroad for a train experience that's been a local favorite since the 1870s. Trains have been a key part of America's history of innovation and business, and having the opportunity to ride historic routes is special on so many levels. Choose the Notch Train, and you'll be cruising along what was once the Mountain Division Line of the Maine Central Railroad. This five-and-a-half-hour trip takes you back in time with commentary about the past, as well as insane views of the forested, mountainous New Hampshire landscape. Or, select the Valley Train to enjoy an old passenger car excursion that can last anywhere from 55 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes. Conway has dining options for those interested, and additionally allows well-behaved pets. What a bonus!
Zebulon Northrop Tilton (What a name!), or "Zeb" for short, was the captain of a schooner that delivered cargo by sail all over New England during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Named after that impressive American folk hero, Zeb's General Store proudly sells New England-made goods of all kinds, and encompasses Zebulon’s passionate spirit. Whether you stop in to check out the old Coca-Cola fountain, purchase some candy, souvenirs, or speciality items, or simply want to see what all the chatter is about, Zeb's will welcome you with open arms. If you want nostalgia, this is the place for you. The general store is covered from wall to wall with old-fashioned treasures, so your eyes won't be bored. Head there early in the morning to beat the rush. This stop may be a quick one, but it's definitely worth your time!
Where to even begin on this huge paradise of pure fun!? Cranmore Mountain Adventure Park offers ziplines to mountains coasters, hiking to rope courses, and chairlifts to summer mountain tubing. This park has it all, and that's just what it offers in the summer! Snow skiing and tubing, in addition to rides and activities the whole family will enjoy, are offered in the winter for the full experience. A weekend trip or an entire vacation will have you wanting to return again and again. The lodges have any dining option or amenity you may need, and passes are made available to those in the area wanting to keep the adventure going all season. Just a mere chair lift up to those incredible mountain views is worth the trip out, let alone the thrilling shenanigans you can get into while here!
While planning your trip through New Hampshire, you’ll see many places to rest after a day of adventure. Why not make your amenities an adventure as well!? Adventure Suites is a locally-owned hotel experience that offers theme rooms to suit anyone's fancy. Rooms that look like caves, log cabins, hippie havens, and even haunted castles will accommodate anywhere from one person to a party of 18. This reasonably-priced hotel even has a ’50s diner ready to whip you up some delicious food. Hotels can be dreary and become just places to rest your head, but your lodging experience can be so much more here at North Conway's Adventure Suites. Whether you need a romantic getaway or a place where the kids have plenty to do, this hotel has it all.
The story of how Story Land came to be is as cute as the park itself. Bob and Ruth Morrell, two Americans living in Germany, made friends with a woman who went door-to-door selling dolls based on children's stories. The idea of bringing these characters to life emerged, and upon returning to the U.S., Bob and Ruth went to work. Story Land opened a year before Disneyland, so you could say it was ahead of its time. The amusement park caters to kids and their parents, and is a great way to have loads of fun in a colorful and adorable place that's been trusted and loved by families for ages. Rides such as Alice's Tea Cups take you through the enchanting world of classic tales we all know, and shows and games will keep you entertained when not spinning on one of the many rides. This family-run business is somewhere you'll feel right at home, especially with youngsters full of wild imaginations.
Imagine a scenic, picturesque, straight-out-of-a-movie scenario of staying in a home in the mountains, with stands of pines and blue skies for days. This is that exact place. Attitash Mountain Village Resort is a massive resort featuring over 350 rooms with features like spa tubs and full kitchens. After a day of outdoor activity, you deserve to relax and unwind in comfort. You can even grab a burger or pizza at the resort’s restaurant. The resort is conveniently located at the base of Attitash Ski Resort, so you won't have to worry about long travels, and can sleep with peace of mind. You'll even find some great hiking right outside your door!
Boasting nearly 6,000 acres of what seems like never-ending beauty, Crawford Notch State Park is a gem that you'll want to visit when in the area. Countless hiking trails and waterfalls can be found around every bend, so grabbing a pair of sturdy shoes and a camera is highly recommended! The park's Wiley House is a popular spot to visit. Originally called the Old Notch House, the Wiley family was living here in 1928 when a drought followed by a terrible storm caused an avalanche behind the home. The entire family disappeared during the madness, and the house has since garnered attention due to mysterious occurrences... and due to the fact that the house still, somehow, stands. If ghost stories and waterfalls aren't your scene, perhaps camping out and taking on the challenging hike to the top of Mount Crawford is!
Exploring New Hampshire is something that should be on every bucket list. The state is home to some of the most beautiful mountains and unique attractions that are fun for the entire family. Stay the night or stay forever; your time in this gorgeous section of the country will not be wasted.
With seven distinct regions and so much to see and do, there’s no wrong way to visit New Hampshire. Hike one of our 4,000 footers and inhale crisp mountain air. Take a boat ride on a glassy lake, or a refreshing dip in the Atlantic Ocean.